Thursday, March 31, 2022

Artist Open Studio Event


Last week I went to a meeting regarding the planned open studio event for artists in the Jersey Shore Arts Center.  The idea came from Joe Borzotta, one of the participants in the current tenants show we have going right now on the first floor.  About 8 people were there, including Nichole, representing the building I assume.  The meeting was quick, to meet the needs of those present.  That night I sent an email to Molly, since she wasn't there, but had expressed some interest in maybe participating, depending on her schedule.   A few days later I got a mail from the organizer, requesting to know who was in or out by Wednesday of this week.  Unfortunately, Molly never wrote back to me, and if she's not going to be there, I won't be there either.  Besides that the room is mostly her mess, I have a class to teach during that time, and Nichole said she'd rather I teach my classes than participate in the event.  I vaguely remember doing an artist open studio event there once.  If it's what I am thinking of, I did get a show out of that, so it would probably be worth doing, but right now I just don't have the availability.  So last night I sent an email to the organizer, stating that at this point I can't commit to being there.  I do plan to ask my classes if they want to consider moving the class to another day, but the students have signed up for the specific time and dates, and I feel they have the right to that time and day if they want it. (Also going to check and see if they want to move the Easter week classes.  I can do them, but if they have holiday plans and can agree, we can change that one too.) I haven't heard anything form anyone yet, so we will see what happens.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

2022 Tournament of Art part 3


Another weekend has wrapped up.  It was exciting around this state for a while, with St Peter's having made it to the Elite 8, a first ever for a #15 seed, but they seemed to forget how to shoot tonight, and got blown out of a chance to make it to the Final Four.  

Still, they had a better winning percentage than I did.  This week they played two games and won one of them.  They are going home tonight, but they still won 50% of what they did this week.  On the other hand, I only got one right in the 3rd round, and one right in the 4th round.  Same team for each. 

Luckily that was my last art team, Villanova, with my other 3 gone before this week. So from an art point of view, I am still alive for several more days.  My brackets are a bit of a mess, but I have Villanova winning the whole thing, and if they do, I can go 2-4 next weekend, and have the champion.  If not, I'll have something else.  If for some reason you don't hear how this all turns out, I'll have the results here after the final game.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Another Kind of Studio Business


I was back up in Ocean Grove for the second consecutive day, but not exactly for the same reason.  There was a meeting planned for today, something I wanted to know about.  One of the artists in our tenant group there at the JSAC wants to do an open studio event, so naturally, I would be one of the resident artists.  A few issues though.  One thing was that the proposed day was on a Saturday in late April, which is a point at which I may be teaching some classes.  Also, Molly isn't sure yet if she wants to or is able to do it, and since she's the lease holder, she should be part of it, plus it's her mess to clean up that fills up much of the room.  So I haven't answered any emails on the topic yet, but I figured I had time to go today and I'd find out what is planned and when.

I made sure to get there a little early for a reason related to why I was there yesterday.  The person who I sold a print to had asked about others and suggested some other family members might want to buy them. But there was a condition- they should be printed on the same kind of paper.  Because these prints make reference to Japanese woodcuts, it made sense to use a Japanese print paper, and I had a large supply of one type that suited the project.  I think it was a student grade okawara, natural (not bleached) a good size for those prints, and with care it could take the watercolor.  I don't know how much of it is left, but I'm sure I still have some whole sheets, certainly enough for whatever comes my way in the near future.  As to where that paper is, that's another story.  It's not here where I live now. It may have been put into storage with everything else I own.  Or maybe it was on my paper shelf in the Studio.  Only way to find out was to check that shelf.  So I did that today before the meeting. That Japanese paper wasn't there, though I did find a large supply of other papers, so I'll be well covered for other immediate projects.

So I went to today's meeting.  I was first to arrive, and sat on the one couch still in the lobby, which was right under my works.  The organizer and someone he knew came next, and brought over the two chairs there in the lobby. Others arrived and took chairs from further away, bringing them to the place where I was.  Eventually someone found the lights, and two folding chairs.  In the end we had maybe 8 people there, with me and Nichole being the only ones from the basement.  

First thing to be settled was the date.  The pencilled in date was April 30th, a Saturday.  One potential participant thought it was too soon- the ones she had been involved in had about 6 months of planning.  I think one month is more than enough.  Others wanted it later, if only to have more visitors in town, or maybe allow us to match up with another event in town.  The problem I see there is we would be in competition with whatever else was in town, and we would lose that completion just about every time.  The point I did raise was that if we had it on the 30th, the walls would be full of art from the tenants, whereas any event after that would be with bare walls or someone else's art.  The organizer decided to stick with the planned day. (if there is another next year, maybe they try the summer thing)

For the time, Nichole suggested 12 to 5, then moving the closing reception for the show to 5 pm, giving us resident artists a slightly shorter day, and maybe using the reception as a way to lure in more studio visitors.  Everyone was fine with that.  There was also talk of outdoor advertising, sponsorships, a separate website, and other promotion, but some of that will be up to the artists.  And that was the end of the meeting.  Before Nichole could disappear to another meeting, I hit her up with a few questions about the classes.  She had no new information, but her preference is for me to do both classes (have to let her know this week), and we can hope for more students, even though this may keep me from participating in the open studio. I pointed out that I had no objection to open studio people checking out the class I was teaching, and it could promote that as well.  The idea intrigued her.  And then I went home.

After lunch I went online and found mail from my former student stating he had been down in Nashville working on the Robert Johnson project, all was going well, and wanted me to send him my chosen songs.  First I sent Molly an update of the meeting, so she would know what was happening and what she would have to do to participate.  Then I replied to my former student with some of what I had worked out.  The names of two of the songs, the specific lyrics that interested me, and the ideas I had for the images.  Also hit him with some technical questions- exact size if images and paper, how the letterpress part would work, etc. I can't begin until I know that, but now I may need a project to work on, for this open studio thing.  Just in case I am part of it somehow. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022



I had mentioned about a week and a half ago I had an inquiry (on behalf of multiple potential customers) about purchasing one of the prints I have in the current show in Ocean Grove.  I sent a reply with what I have in stock, and prices in various conditions.  These things usually go nowhere, so I didn't give it much thought.  But then yesterday, just as I was about to head off to speech therapy, I got a phone call about it.  The person I had been in contact with (works there in the office) was interested in buying the finished unframed copy I had right now.  A sale is a sale, so I said fine, and if you want it in a hurry, it's hanging in my Studio, and gave her permission to go get it, as long as she didn't mind climbing up on top of the shelving unit to get it.  When I got to the therapist's office, I realized that the copy there was unsigned, so I called her back and said if she wanted that on it, I could come in the next day.  We set up a plan.

So today I went in at the planned time, armed with a pencil.  I had checked the other copies I had to make sure of the proper numbering system.  (I had an unframed copy in the basement #1/10, and I verified that the framed copy in the show was #2/10, so this one would be #3 and at the same time made sure of the chosen order of title, edition # , and signature I used in the first two, to make sure the new one would match up)  I was there a few minutes early, so hung out in my space.  I heard something going on and walked over to the office, but it was just Bobby eating lunch, so I hung out in the office while he ate.  My contact came in a few minutes past the chosen time, and had a protective carrier and an envelope full of cash for me.  I signed the piece with the proper title, edition number, and signature.  

She asked which boardwalk it was, and I explained that it was completely made up as a location, though very accurate to what boardwalks are like. She noted the Japanese connotation of the title, and I said that was intentional, bringing up the relationship between Floating World zones and Japanese art and woodcut history, and how it related to New Jersey boardwalks.  This one is for her sister, but she knew some other family members who might be interested.  I pointed out that it was part of a series, and most of the others could be found on the web.  So there may be more to follow.  

I am glad I decided to put this one in the show last month, as it got me a sale.  (see the image at the top of this post)  It's a good print, and has won at least one award that I can remember, but mostly it was chosen for this show because it was already in a frame, and hadn't been shown in that building before.  

Monday, March 21, 2022

2022 Tournament of Art part 2


Not my best bracket ever.  Actually the first round wasn't that bad, with a 24-8 record in those games, though my art schools only went 2-2.  Rutgers technically didn't even make the first round, having lost its play-in game to Notre Dame a few days earlier.  And LSU lost to Iowa State in the first round, despite having a great advantage in seeding.  I think the committee did a terrible job of seeding this time, as a lot of double digit seeds beat their single digit opponents, and some of the higher seed teams only went a round or two before losing and being sent home.  

My second round was way off- only an 8-8 record in those games.  Again, some of the seedings were way off, with a lot of low seeds making it to the sweet 16.  And I don't remember there being as many overtime  games in past years as this year.  I do pick some underdogs as part of my brackets, and some of those won, but it's been a rough year.  Some of the overtime games went my way, so I can't complain about that.

Of my art schools, I now have one left, as Illinois lost to Houston in the second round.  (Not really an upset, a 4-5 game.)  So now I am left with one art school, Villanova.  They could still win it all (a #2 seed), but their next game is against Michigan, a team that was only an 11 seed, but they've broken a lot of hearts over the years.  

I will still keep watching, as there will be some good games among the rest of the tournament.  I have 5 teams alive out of 8 in the next round, so I can still gain some points here.  And I have one art school still alive, so that's worth following. I'll be back here in a week with an update.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

St Joseph's Day 2022

 One of my favorite holidays has come around again, St. Joseph's Day.  A holiday unknown to most who are not Italian, and it's a shame, as it's a good celebration.  Unlike that nonsense on the 17th, the custom for this day includes eating of fine Italian pastries, due to fact among many things, Joseph is the patron saint of bakers, and Italy of course.  The standard is a large zeppole, filled with traditional cannoli cream (sometimes with chocolate chips), maybe with small pieces of candied fruit on or inside.  One year I was sold a large sfinge, a more irregular hunk of fried dough, but still filled with cannoli cream, and just as good.  At least once (back in Carbondale) I made a ricotta cheesecake for the occasion, as I didn't have a good recipe for the zeppole shells (something between a donut and a large cream puff), and some years when I couldn't find the proper pastry, I'd have pasta with an old world meat sauce, and celebrate Italianicity that way.  But this year my mother went out in the morning and got some zeppeli (two with custard, two with cannoli cream), so we'll be covered here.  For lunch I had a leftover half sandwich from Thursday, sausage and peppers on a big roll, reheated and delicious.  For dinner at night, we had mushroom ravioli with an alfredo sauce, at my father's request.  And we knew what dessert would be.

If you are wondering about that photo at the top of this post, I still don't have a camera, but that may change soon.  Instead, this is an experiment that my mother suggested.  It seems that my father's cell phone can take photos, but unlike mine, we can send them to email, which can be sent to me, and I can download those photos into my computer and post them to a blog.  That image of zeppeli at the top of the post means that the experiment worked, and I may do it once in a while for art, at least until either I get back my old camera, or buy a new one.  But that photo is what I ate tonight.  One of those with the white filling.  Yummy.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Studio Business Goes On


I had planned to go the Studio yesterday, get a little work done, ask a few questions.  But my father had some appointments, and my mother said she wasn't up to driving, so I decided to put off my trip until today and drive them.  No problem, as I have no immediate deadlines, and one day is as good as another.  However, I did send an email to Nichole yesterday afternoon, asking about classes.

Light rain today, but I've driven through much worse very often for work, so it wasn't going to keep me home.  Got up there, and saw no cars by the outside entrance of the office, and the windows looked dark, more noticeable on a foggy day like this where the lights would have been on if anyone was in there.  Used my keys to let myself in the front door, worked my way through the dark first floor hallway to the elevator, went downstairs, and found the office looked dark from that side, too.  No problem, over to my basement Studio to get some work done on the latest project.

I'm still working on visual ideas for the Robert Johnson project that Tom told me about a few weeks ago.  Until I get some more instructions from Tom, I'm not going to work on final drawings, or even saw the wood blocks to size, but this is the time to pick my song possibilities, and start doing some rough sketches of ideas.  He had mentioned his plan to keep "Hellhound on my Trail" for himself. It's a good song, perhaps my favorite Robert Johnson song (only one I have here on disc, courtesy of my recording of my last radio show in Carbondale), and one with a lot of visual components.  I could probably do a whole series just based on this one song.  But taking that one out, I still found four songs that had lyrics I could easily adapt, so maybe it's for the best.  Otherwise, I'd have five songs to choose from.  I'm not going to list the four songs yet, but if I choose one or two to take to print, I'll talk about them then.  I had worked out rough sketches for two of them already, but saved two to work on at the Studio.

For music to listen to,  I didn't choose Robert Johnson, or even blues, but a live radio performance on the former WNEW-FM by the NJ band The Smithereens.  This was the first in what was planned as a series, recorded at Electric Ladyland studios (made famous by Jimi Hendrix) in front of an audience.  However, I think there was only one more such event before the radio station changed hands, and that was the end of live rock performances.  This was recorded in 1989, and since the band's records were all straight forward performances of their songs, this sounds very much like their records, and is essentially a greatest hits collection of the first few albums (this was written about back in September 2019 if you are interested). The reason I chose that, was that last night I caught a showing of a classic Twilight Zone episode, "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You," set in a conformist near future where everyone drinks "instant smile" to cheer up, and undergoes a "transformation" at age 19 to look like an attractive prototype, that comes with a bit of brainwashing to make happy people.  Our protagonist does not want any of this, preferring to look like herself, and think what she wants, and this is baffling to all those around her who have been through this process.  (a common theme in science fiction) The mother was played by Suzy Parker, who was one of the top models of the 1960's (The Beatles did a jam about her as part of their Get Back sessions), which made me think of Jeannie Shrimpton, another top model of the era, who was name checked by the Smithereens in their song "Behind a Wall of Sleep", which is one of their greatest hits, and on that live set.  (based on this episode, Parker would not have made it as a super model today- face and hair are nice, but the body would not work today) 

The sketches I had done were very rough, just something to get ideas I have had down on paper.  That's all I wanted for the last two, and that's what I have, but I am helped by something I had there in the Studio, and hadn't consciously thought about, a thick catalog of reference photography.  I don't know where I got it, but it is a few hundred pages of work by commercial photographers, some seem to be actual ads, some are probably portfolio shots.  Some of the figures are recognizable as celebrities (a reminder of what is required in being a celebrity), but most are just anonymous models.  Both genders, all ages.  Most are dressed, though some are nude.  This softcover book is about 400 pages of color photography, ranging from glamorous, to ordinary, to disgusting, all organized by the photographer. A bit too much fashion for my typical work, but the focus on figures could be very helpful to this project.  First in laying out the ideas as roughs, and maybe down the road for the final versions, though I would rather draw from a live model if I can find any suitable ones.  

I didn't want to bring that whole book home, so after completing my four rough song adaptations (out of my head), I did some sketches of images I found in that book, there in my sketchbook.  Maybe I'll use them later to refine the sketches I have.  Good thing the deadline on this is next year.

And when I got home I had email from Nichole, essentially telling me that it was up to me to decide what my minimum is for the class size, so I have a week to decide what I want to do.  I already have enough in the drawing class, so it's about deciding if there is enough people to make the color class worth doing.  More people registering for the latter class would take the decision out of my hands.  We shall see.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

2022 Tournament of Art

 Today was the annual Selection Sunday show, where the seeding, match-ups, and teams for the year's NCAA mens basketball tournament are announced.  That means today is also the day where I announce the participants in this year's Tournament of Art, where I list all the colleges that have been chosen for the tournament that are also schools where I have been represented as an artist.  This can be teaching, an exhibition, a publication, or a collection.  There are always a few. The basketball tournament lasts about three weeks, and I'll update things here every weekend as long as I have an art school in it.  So here they are, in chronological order of my appearance there:

Illinois, #4 seed in the South Region.  I had an exhibition there in 1994, part of an exchange between SIU and U of I, first they came to us, and then we were there.  Our faculty had sold them on my Fourth of July series, so I showed that on a large brick wall.  Originally there was a push from some faculty to show my blocks, with claims it was closer to painting, which is what Illinois had sent us.  I told them I thought of the blocks as closer to sculpture, but I wanted to show the prints, the point of the series.  They also wanted to banish Linn Nelson, the only other printmaker that year, but Joel Feldman stepped in to say they should have us both or neither, and they really wanted my piece in the show.

Rutgers, #11 seed in the West Region.  I have a few links to Rutgers.  I applied there as a college, was accepted, and invited to interview for their honors program. Was offered that as well, but chose to go elsewhere.  I did go to a workshop there in the early 90's probably, on Wage and Labor law in New Jersey, although the certificate I got was from Cornell.  But what I think really qualifies me for the school is that I did a classroom appearance, including the showing of artwork, at the invitation of Bill Fick, who was a temporary hire there sometime around the turn of the century (can't find the date anywhere, preceding this blog by a few years).  I also showed work as part of the open portfolio night when the SGC was there back in 2004, but I don't know if I count that.

Villanova, #2 seed in the South Region.  Had two prints there as part of the Art and Religion show back in 1997.  The show was actually at the Balch Institute in Philadelphia, but they accepted 4 saints (the most for any one artist) and split the show between the Balch and Villanova University, so I ended up with two at each location.

Louisiana State University, #4 seed in the Midwest Region. There was a showing of a portfolio here in 2006 that I was a part of, as was then faculty member Sean Star Wars.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Art Life


A few things to deal with the past few days.

One big project I completed was migrating a lot of material.  Although my job at the university ended a year and a half ago, the email box is still working, so I have been checking it on a daily basis.  Not that anything is coming my way from the college anymore, but you never know. Then last week something came my way, a notice that the college is having us get new logins next week.  Problem is that I don't know if I'll even be allowed to have one, being as I am not employed there anymore.  But I have had that email box since 2004, and there is much there that I don't have any other place, a problem if I don't have access to it anymore.  My solution is to forward any relevant email to another place before I get locked out.  (I wrote about this before) So I have spent the past several days going through that email box, seeng what is there, and sending anything I might want for the future to a box not controlled by that university.  Not particularly difficult, just time consuming.  There are maybe thousands of emails in the various categories.  (at first there was a space limit, but that was eliminated years ago, so I have just kept everything, with old stuff being properly migrated from the original box to the one I may be losing in a few days)  

I found some things I didn't know I had, like a phone number that I wanted, but didn't have access to anymore.  But I found it in an old email from 2009, wrote it down, and called it (and she called me back) so now I have it in a few places.  I found some old reference letters that I don't have a need for right now, but I may later.  Lots of communication from fellow faculty.  Articles and authors related to shows I had long ago.  I didn't need to save all of this, but I at least read it again.  In the end I forwarded about 30 emails, containing communications, documents, images, and other stuff to the new box.  I will try to get the new login when the time comes to apply, but if I can't get it, I have what I need.

Yesterday I got a mail from the place I have a current show in.  Apparently there has been some interest in my boardwalk print from the show, and some inquiries about purchasing one.  I have another copy unframed, and am willing to sell the one in the show (with or without the frame) once the show is over, so I gave the price information to the office there.  In my experience, most people who ask about buying things never actually put up the money to do so, but I told them if they wanted to look into it, they can.  Perhaps I'll put more boardwalk prints into the next show.  Of course, if I don't get my watercolors back, it is all moot anyway.

I am scheduled to teach classes there in April, and last night I got a notice of a new sign up in the color class.  That makes two for acrylics, and five for drawing, both on Saturdays.  That drawing class will definitely run, and I don't know yet about the other, so I will ask next time I see Nichole.  About three weeks to go, so anything is possible.

The person I had called was my computer consultant, who helped me install a new operating system in my trusty old laptop several years ago, so finding that number was timely.  I asked about further updates, and was told that may not be possible, as that laptop keeps getting older, and in her experience, the updates don't take hold anymore in machines as old as mine.  Looks like I'll be migrating images next, but that can wait until I see what's on the web, and what I have on the computer to save.  It may be quite a lot.  I have taken thousands of photos, and some may be worth holding on to.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

College Life


I have spent a lot of time around colleges over the years.  I was a college student for 10 years, earning three degrees in art at three different schools in that time, including my terminal degree in the art field.  Then for about 15 years I had no official attachment to any school, but I was around them a lot.  This came in the form of doing guest lectures, showing my art and skills to college students, mostly printmakers.  I have also exhibited my art at a lot of colleges, mostly group shows, but even some of them had me showing large bodies of work.  But there were solo shows as well.  And these things occurred all over the state, and all over the country.  Then I got a part time teaching job, first at a state university, then a year later at a county college, lasting 15 and 10 years respectively.  At both I was considered part time, teaching 1 to 3 classes per semester, with no guarantees beyond each semester, other than the constant need for people to teach classes who knew what they were doing.  But that's how the colleges wanted it, and eventually they ended my jobs there.  Not because I was incapable, but I tend to think because they just didn't want to pay me any more.  The last school I was working at cut me loose about a year and a half ago. 

All schools were having problems at that point, beside the usual issues colleges have, there was the threat of Covid, and the rules that it required, which made it very hard to teach any kind of class that called for students to be present and use college provided equipment.  Which means any kind of art class you might think of.  Colleges had been pushing toward more online classes anyway, while shrinking departments, but the pandemic really accelerated that process.  The university I had worked for decided to adopt a learning management system, which means a corporate based system that makes use of computers, and just purchases all classes as commodity from these corporate entities.   None of these ever work, by the way, so they are constantly replaced.  But the administrators believe it will give them control, as well as eliminate all those faculty they hate to have around. I was scheduled to teach two classes in the fall, 2020 semester, but when the new learning management system decided I wasn't suitable, I was let go immediately. My brain surgery happened later that semester, so I couldn't have finished that semester anyway, but it wasn't diagnosed yet, so they didn't know that yet.

However, the email box for that university still works, and my password still works, so I have seen all the mail sent to all faculty and students in that time.  I check it almost every day.  When they took the classes away, they took my students away, so I don't hear from them anymore.  But I get everything else, which is a few dozen mails per week.  When I updated my exhibition list last week, I forwarded a copy to that box.  Why not?  It's organized, (I moved that to my Documents section) and there is an unlimited amount of space. 

Then last week I got three pieces of mail that show things may change, all were from the college's new president, who sends out lots of mails, or from official offices.  One stated that they have decided to replace the chosen learning management system with a new one.  It seems the one they chose and were told by everyone was a bad system, was the disaster that everyone said it would be, and now they think they have a better one.  (we had this new one at my county college, and I know it has problems as well) Since I was let go for not being able to handle the flawed system they had chosen before, I don't know what this means for me, but they know how to find me if they want me.  Another bit of news was that they have now had two consecutive weeks without any new cases of Covid 19 among any of the residential students on campus,  which means they will lift the mask mandate in mid-April.  (masks are still allowed after that for anyone who wants one, and it will probably be many) Of course, this implies that they did have positive cases among students before then, which is why they closed the college down in March of 2020 to begin with, so almost two years of pandemic on campus.   Those last classes I would have had were to be hybrid classes, a mix of online and in person teaching, very short classes so that we could have only half the students at a time and spread them out in our old and small classrooms.  So maybe it was for the best that my employment was ended, as I might have been exposed if I was there.  The third news was that besides a new learning management system, they are about to adopt a new login system, for our convenience of course, which is what places always say.  I don't know what is involved in creating this new system, or what I would have to do to get a new login, but it's possible that no longer being employed there, I would no longer have access to that email account, and wouldn't have access to all those saved emails.  So I guess it's time to take all the things I have saved on email there and move it to another place they don't control.  It turns out that I started a new account a few weeks ago, no relation to the college, so I have a place to send things that may be worth saving (tested it today and it works), so my new task for this week is to take anything worth saving and move it.  A lot of this will be teaching stuff, in case I ever need it again.  

So I am no longer employed by a college, and may never be again, but being a college professor never really ends.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Still More Promotion Business


I realized last night that I had to take care of some business today, so after my art lesson in the morning, I gathered my things and took off.  Tomorrow there will be a big St Patrick's Day parade in Belmar, which is always two weeks early so they can get the big acts that march in New York's parade, and it usually rains or snows, plus they close down Main Street for the occasion, leading to all kinds of traffic.  Thus today is the day to drive anywhere.  Saw Nichole's car in the lot, so I stopped to see her.  I shared with her some of my concerns, about the card, as told to me by people who I gave them to.  Nichole wasn't buying my concern that not having a proper street address or phone number was an issue for the older crowd (one of her big sources of visitors and participants) but she agreed to put a sticker with those bits of info on cards before they went out.  It's my experience that seniors don't like to use the internet, and so a web address might be enough for me, her, and anyone else who works in that office, but some who get the card won't go there, and people I gave the card to didn't know where the Jersey Shore Art Center is. Telling them it was in Ocean Grove at the corner of Main and Main didn't help either.  Telling them it was the old brick building that had been the old Neptune High School, just outside the Ocean Grove gate, was successful, but that's not on the card either. Nichole also gave me a big stack, more than I had, so if there is a demand, I am all set.  We also discussed the 2nd floor show, and my upcoming classes there. 

Later at home I checked my email and found I had another person registered for the drawing class, bringing that number up to 5. It was already with enough to run, but each additional person just means more money for me and for the building.  

Also had email from Nellie, saying that she had just seen my show at the JSAC and liked it.  She was particularly fond of the one in the middle, Trance.  I'm not sure if I like that.  It's a fine print (see above), and wouldn't be in the show if I didn't like it, but it is the oldest one there, by about 25 years.  I have probably mentioned this before, but it combines aspect of a dream I had, and the trance films of Maya Deren, in a way that made sense to both, in my opinion.  I don't think I had brought it to any of my classes, so I assume it was new to her.  It's an important print to me, as it was the first real print I made after returning to New Jersey after school, and proof to myself that I could still make a real print once I didn't have a school to require it.  This print had been in a frame, which made it a good choice for this show.  It has been in other places before, but not in this place.  I'll send her a reply in the coming days.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Art and Other Business


Yesterday I had learned from my mother that the receptionist/secretary at my speech therapy office would be leaving, her last day today.  I hadn't heard anything about this, so it was a bit of surprise.  Maybe not an art person, but she was in possession on one of my puzzles, and since that image (actual print) is appearing in my current show in Ocean Grove, I did give her an announcement about the show the week before last.

So when my parents returned from morning errands, I set out, and my first stop was that office.  No other patients at that time, and I knew that my speech therapist was out doing something else, so it was just the person I knew, and another woman (both in masks as this is a rule for all medical offices) who would be the replacement.  Tricia confirmed that she is leaving after today, so we had a chat about that.  And I had a chance to meet Monica, the person who will eventually replace her. (but not for a few weeks, so no one will be at the desk for my visit next week)  Turns out the new person has some experience as a model, having sat for sculpture portraits years ago, so we had a discussion about portraits and how they can vary so much from what we expect, mirrors being far from the truth at times.  (as an artist I have often used mirrors as an aid in creating art, both for painting when they sometimes revealed flaws that weren't seen when looking at the piece itself, and for woodcut, where the image would be completely reversed in printmaking, and it was a way to see what would come before cutting and printing)  

But with all that taken care of, I continued up route 35 toward Neptune, and my Studio.  I was hoping to talk to Nichole about the postcards, but I didn't see her car in the lot, so I assumed she wasn't there.  I went in through the first floor main door and found the hallway dark.  The lights were all on last Saturday, so I guess they just turn them on when they are expecting visitors.  My back up reason for going was to try out my new saw.  Last time I tried to use my old saber saw it didn't work, but it was old and used when I got it, and that was decades ago, so I guess it was just time for it to be expired.  I have no immediate need for a saw, having used previously cut blocks for the last few woodcut prints I have made, and no woodcut classes on the schedule right now, but eventually I will, so I may as well see how this new one works.  I didn't bring any of my books of discs with me, so I had to be satisfied with one of the few I keep there, Toshi Reagon's The Righteous Ones, which is always enjoyable to listen to. (you can read about it on this blog back in August, 2021)  The reason I was playing a disc was that I planned to go through the instruction book carefully, my nature when preparing to use a new power tool.  Just opening the box took a while, but I had tools there to help me with that.  The saw comes with two blades, one each for wood and metal, and T-shank as promised.   One thing mentioned in customer comments on the website, was that this particular saw could be used with U or T blades (if you don't know what that means, go blade shopping and you will), but that the no-tool blade gripping thing would stop functioning with U shank blades eventually, so I guess I should buy some of the proper blades soon.  Meanwhile, it seems to work just fine, so after a quick test of the wood blade on a piece of scrap wood, I carefully put it away in the box it came from.

Tom had asked me to wait for further discussion before beginning the new block for his Robert Johnson project, so no point in cutting a block to size today.  What I have done is some research into the songs.  It would be much easier if I had my discs and records, and especially the booklet that came with the boxed disc set, since it has all the lyrics from all the songs, and this project is a lyric illustration, but all that is in storage.  Luckily most of the songs are on YouTube, and my ears can hear the words most of the time.  (these were all recorded in the 30's on primitive equipment, and the singer was right out of the fields of Mississippi, so it's not always easy) I have chosen a few possibilities so far, words that I can come up with a visual for, as long as I can find a proper model to pose.  As I said before, we have time on this one. 

On my way out of the building, I decided to stop by the office and see what I could find out.  Just Bobby Duncan in there, but we did have a nice discussion of his new mural, which he is working on sketches of during his time in the office.  No one else in the office today.  He's making progress on his proposal sketch for the mural, which will show an old assembly line for Cadillacs, the favorite subject of the person who owns the next space and is paying for the new mural.  He says the patron is a stickler for details, especially with cars, so he will have to be very exact and go along with the guy's demands for the colors he wants for each car, but that's what comes with working for someone else.  We talked about the joys of drawing/painting old cars (I often use late 60's and 70's cars in my prints as this is what I grew up seeing on roads and in parking lots, and I feel this is when cars looked most like cars), the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of wood for cutting and carving, and eventually the current show upstairs.  He said from what he's seen, my prints have gotten a good response so far.  I always put a lot of things to look at in my pieces, and the boardwalk print is particularly liked by viewers.  One told him he could smell the boardwalk looking at my piece.  As I like to say, it is absolutely authentic, yet completely made up- it doesn't exist except in my head. I guess I just know what boardwalks are like.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Ash Wednesday


Yesterday was the fun of Fat Tuesday.  Unfortunately that means today is Ash Wednesday and Lent has begun.  Twice in the midwest I gave up meat for the whole of Lent, which is 40 days if you are not familiar with it.  Of course that was in the Catholic sense, so I could still eat seafood of all kinds, and things like eggs and dairy were acceptable (I'm not a vegan), so it wasn't that difficult.  I officially gave up all the meats I could think of- beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, even rabbit, as I had that a few times in Italy.  That still leaves many many options for food, so I was in no danger of starving.  I did have a problem when I went with a group of art students across the Mississippi for a meal at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, assuming there would be at least one seafood or vegetarian option on the menu.  No such luck- it was just a mom and pop (she was in the kitchen, he was the greeter) and they only had 5 items on the regular menu, all forbidden by my pledge.  However, there was a special that night, and I hadn't given that up, goat.  Cooked, seasoned, diced, and served (with chopped vegetables) in a way to make small tacos.  So I got by on a technicality, but the following year I added goat to my list of forbidden foods.  There were ways to get by.  Takeout options in town included falafel, tofu, and the best pizza in town was a deep dish with tomato chunks and extra cheese.  And I cooked, so even more options there.

Once upon a time, all Fridays were meatless, but that was changed to just Lent before I was born.  However, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (at the end of Lent) call for both abstinence from meat, and fasting (only one meal and two snacks for the day), and the fasting is tougher in my opinion.  But I can handle a day or two, and I still won't starve.  There may be rules stating what I can eat, but no rule as to when I eat them, so I can space them at a way that makes it easier.  I suppose my current medical situation gives me an exemption (age will as well in a few decades), but I'm not one to come up with excuses to get out of commitments.  If I can handle not eating meat for 80 days, I can handle what Lent requires.

Meanwhile, if there is a question as to what this has to do with art, I have done at least one print about Ash Wednesday, as part of my Fourth of July series, and you can see it above.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Jambalaya Time


That time of year has come around again already- Lent.  Of course, before the deprivations of Ash Wednesday comes the celebrations of Fat Tuesday, or as it's known down in New Orleans, Mardi Gras.  Some celebrate the day with lots of drinking, some with eating a big hunk of king cake, some with the appropriate music, and some with general partying.  For me, it's always about the food, traditional cajun food, and maybe some zydeco, as I played a bit of that on my various radio shows around the country.  There used to be a good cajun restaurant in town here, and while it was almost impossible to get in on Mardi Gras, I could usually talk the owner into giving me and my brother a couple of po' boys to go, which was good enough.  Unfortunately, that place closed down years ago, taking that fine food and atmosphere to far away. 

Of course my solution was to figure out how to cook some of this for myself.  The one I decided to take on was jambalaya.  I liked the one done there, and it seemed simple enough.  I also liked other foods there, but those seemed a bit more complicated.  I did some research, and found that there were so many different recipes out there for jambalaya, that there was no real recipe.  It was a rice dish, and had to include some form of pork (the French word for ham is 'jambe') but otherwise, it was whatever the cook wanted it to be.  Like Italian that way, and I could figure that out, so jambalaya would be easy.  Supermarkets around here don't seem to have crawfish, but shrimp are a suitable substitute, and many versions don't have any seafood, so that is not required.  And everything else is in the supermarkets around here, so I came up with a reasonable recipe.  Never wrote it down, so each year I just make it as I remember, and it seems to work out.  

So I bought my ingredients a few days ago, cooked it up (and enjoyed a first bowl) on Sunday, had another bowl on Monday, and today I finished it off, in honor of Fat Tuesday.  Also had some cold beer (picked up a six pack the other day as we had none in the house), and while my collection of zydeco and cajun albums is in storage, I have a computer and YouTube, which means I have access to anything I can remember, and I do have a good memory for music.  At Studio Arrabbiata, we always celebrate spicy food, so this is a tradition I have to be part of.

Still no camera, so I don't have a photo of this batch, so I pulled up an old photo of a previous batch, that like the one I just made, is without shrimp.  Today's did have andouille sausage, chicken, green peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, rice, plenty of spices, and a few other things I'm not mentioning here. As the saying goes, "laissez les bon temps roulez".